"DEFEND FREEDOM; DEFEAT OBAMA," said the NRA commercial. The National Rifle Association is the American weapons lobby made world-famous by the campaigns of its president, Charlton Heston, the actor who never, until his death, relented in the fight against gun control, not even on the warm days following the slaughter at Columbine.
The commercials have failed and Obama sits in the White House. But surprise, the fierce lobby — which defines freedom by the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms — has won in any case, and without firing a shot. In Virginia, a law was passed that allows people to conceal weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
It's more than a turning point. Because of the slaughter at Virginia Tech less than three years ago, when 33 people died, campaigns were started throughout the U.S. to pass legislation to prevent students from wandering around campus carrying a gun. But today, Virginia itself wants to abolish a ban — in place for 17 years — on purchasing more than one gun per month. People say that as a result of the turnaround, Republicans will return to power in the fall.
True, but what about the laws allowing you to carry concealed handguns in national parks or in your suitcase on Amtrak? Both these provisions have been signed into law by Barack Obama. Is this real? The gun control activists explain that, unfortunately, this is now law because the legislation was linked to other, beneficial laws, like the ones imposing new rules on credit card companies. The result doesn't change: Today you can walk armed in 373 out of 392 parks in the U.S., with corollary state-by-state provisions, which in some cases — like the Appalachian Mountains that run through 14 states — turn into a legislative Babylon.
There's more: Arizona and Wyoming want to liberalize the possession of concealed weapons without a permit. Montana and Tennessee have launched a real "secession": Weapons produced, sold and used within the state cannot be subjected to federal control.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who first sounded the alarm, tells the New York Times [in reference to the Obama administration] “We expected a very different picture at this stage.” He would have done better to follow the example of Michael Bloomberg, Republican mayor of New York City and leader of a movement that, in less than four years, has grown from a coalition of 15 to 526 mayors across the country. Through this coalition [Mayors Against Illegal Guns], he managed to prevent the U.S. Senate from passing a law that would have forced states to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states, based on the principle that a license granted in one particular state was not valid in the rest of the U.S.
Is America rediscovering the charm of do-it-yourself justice? Actually, it never lost it. Recently on YouTube, clips from the movie "Hit Girl," starring Nicholas Cage, are drawing the crowds. It opens in April, and the avenger, an 11-year-old girl, is causing a huge scandal because of the R-rated trailer and posters of the little girl with a gun. What to do?
The White House boasts of statistics that point to a decrease in crimes — the lowest since the 1960s. But an investigation by USA Today has highlighted the fact that Homeland Security staff loses something like two hundred guns a year: forgotten at the bar, in the restroom, in the car, regularly ending up in the wrong hands — despite “Security" in the department's title.